As with many personality disorders, the exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is unknown. Biological vulnerabilities, early childhood experiences and psychological factors form a complex mixture and may all play a part.
Early childhood risk factors include:
- insensitive parenting
- over-praising and excessive pampering - when parents focus intensely on a particular talent or the physical appearance of their child as a result of their own self-esteem issues
- unpredictable or negligent care
- excessive criticism
- extremely high expectations.
Other possible factors include:
- genetic abnormalities impacting on psychobiology - the connection between brain and behaviour
- an over-sensitive temperament.
Although there is no one answer to the question of what causes NPD, professionals agree that the sooner treatment begins, the better a person's chance for an improved quality of life.
Last reviewed: December 2016